Ah, Thursday night — the only truly social night of the week. It’s the night when babysitters are booked, friends convene, and drinks are imbibed. There are no family obligations to fulfill, no amateurish weekend crowds to elbow through — and the possibilities are endless. The night starts after work and ends whenever you want. In any city. All over the world. This week, we’re presenting the perfect Thursday night in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Edmonton by night (Thinkstock)
Edmonton is Alberta’s second-largest city, but it is still one of Canada’s hidden gems. A college town with a city problem, it has a bustling arts and food district concentrated into a few busy blocks in the historic district of Old Strathcona that shouldn’t be missed. Throughout the year, Edmonton is home to arts fests, fringe festivals, and music meetups, and that creative nature is reflected in the city’s mix of restaurants and activities.
Take in the Edmonton River Valley. (IQRemix/Flickr)
5 p.m.: Before starting your night, get a good look at the city from the promenade at Louise McKinney Riverfront Park. Besides stunning views of the river valley, here you have access to the Trans-Canada Trail, the longest network of hiking trails in the world, with a system that spans 14,000 miles from the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans. Or, if you don’t feel like a walk, there’s also a Segway company within the park for a motorized jaunt through its Chinese garden.
Whyte Avenue awaits. (Annemarie Dooling)
6:30 p.m.: Head across the river to Old Strathcona for a little shopping. In the Army & Navy store on Whyte Avenue, you’ll find everything from last season’s designer sweaters to ironic floral rain boots for a night out in Edmonton’s hipster bar scene — and for super cheap. If you’re stopping in Alberta before a weekend of camping, it’s a great place to grab last-minute layers and equipment, and if you’re not used to the Alberta chill, pick up a pair of gloves here, too. If you’re into new more than vintage, Bamboo Ballroom is an adorable boutique filled with familiar clothing brands and local indie designers’ wares.
7:30 p.m.: Given that the city hosts an enormous fringe festival, it’s no surprise that Edmonton’s arts district is a mecca for indie-movie lovers, with two theaters leading the charge: Metro Cinema is the neighborhood art house, where you’ll find hard-to-locate international films as well as the new Kevin Smith movie. The Princess Theatre is the oldest in the city, a two-screener famous for its retro décor dating back to its 1915 opening and a kitschy Princess Peach drink at the concession stand.
Carnivore heaven in Edmonton (Annemarie Dooling)
9 p.m.: You are probably starving by now, so go grab a table at Meat. As the name suggests, this restaurant has a menu of specialties such as beef brisket, pulled pork, and fried chicken, all available by the half pound and pound, and served on large family-style trays with macaroni and cheese, creamed corn, Brussels sprouts, and more. Don’t leave without trying one of their custom lemonades. And with communal-style tables, you can reach out to a neighbor to ask for some more tips for your Thursday night.
11 p.m.: To escape the legions of young and tipsy college students, head to Blues on Whyte, a classic jazz bar that hosts old pros and newcomers alike and mixes a relaxed, dive-bar atmosphere with the feeling of a vintage speakeasy. If you want a laid-back evening, it’s better to get to the club early, but popping in at 11 p.m. is more fun — the night is getting started, there’s prime people watching, and you can dance the night away.
1 a.m.: Ready for a late-night snack? The Common is where the best dressed of Edmonton come to snack on truffle popcorn and work their way through its list of international beers. But don’t let that stop you from sampling the more modern cocktails too, such as a watermelon mojito or Canada’s national drink, the Caesar (something like a bloody Mary, but made with Clamato), while listening to live music by local bands, DJs, and musicians.
Check out more Thursday-night itineraries in cities around the world!